Monday, September 17, 2012

Courage, Brethren, and On, On to the Victory (photos at end)

Dear Family,
Thank you so much for your sweet emails, once again. 

Wow, you`re thinking of sending me a Christmas package!? Yipppeee! Thanks! Here is a little guide for anyone who wonders what to send a sister missionary, specifically one in Paraguay:
-socks (I sent you a picture of what kind)
-one or two down east white shirts, size medium
-as far as food goes, healthy granola bars would be awesome, since you probably can`t send foods that I really miss like bagels and cream cheese, whole wheat flour, etc.
-post-it notes of any variety
-LDS things in Spanish I can give to kids or converts or investigators, like ¨Soy un hijo de Dios¨ stickers or pencils, etc.
-something for my companion
-CD`s!!!! Talks on CD, EFY music, MoTab
-But mostly, what I want is letters. Letters from family and friends, especially ones I haven`t heard from yet.
-Also, I know this is a lot to ask, but what I really need is shoes, because those Dansko ones have a fairly bulky heel and there are really rough, cobblestone streets in Piribebuy that I would twist my ankle on if I wore those shoes. I have been wearing some black flats I got for NYC and they have almost worn through from the cobblestones. So my favorite are the brown Clarks I got. Naturalizers or Earth Shoes or Clarks would be great, size 8, in black. I don`t care if they are ugly. It will be expensive, and I am sorry, but it can be the only package you send me on my mission!
This week we had the baptism of Celzo! It was a beautiful day. His sweet family walked for over an hour to the church for his baptism. The service was mostly all in guarani (a native language). Baptisms are so motivating to me. After seeing the joy and change that comes to someone be baptized, I just want to work even harder to bring more people to the water. Before my mission and even in the MTC for a little bit I wasn`t that determined to baptize a ton, just to change lives, help people, and teach the gospel. But I have gained a testimony that baptism is a crucial part of changing one`s life.

As I was leading a hymn waiting for him to get dressed after being baptized, I looked out at the small group of people who attended the baptism. All of sudden I saw my situation from an outsider`s perspective. I forgot how none of the investigators we invited came, how the person we asked to give a talk didn`t show up. I saw a group of probably 15 Paraguayan members of the Church of Jesus Christ. I was in the middle of South America at the baptism of a father who would soon be a priesthood leader in his home. How blessed I am. I realized I wouldn`t rather be doing anything else, how this is what I have wanted to do for so long, and now here it is. Moments of overhwelming gratitude have come to me almost every day this week, as if God is telling me not to wish I was anywhere else, reminding me of how blessed I am.
Yesterday was a district conference and our branch rented a collectivo (bus) and went to Caacupe together. We picked up 5 of our investigators! Nelson even came again, and Juan Leon who doesn`t even speak Spanish! We walked into the meeting as they were about to sing the opening song, and Elder Vance, my zone leader pointed to me and then to the organ. Further sign language made me realize he wanted me to play the organ for the opening song that everyone was getting ready to sing right then. I was thankful that Paraguayans only sing about 5 hymns, and that I have mastered those hymns, so it was fine. I guess I really am one of the only ones in the district who plays, because they were about to sing a capella. Anyway, I thought it was going to be a live meeting with our mission president, President Madariaga, but it was actually a broadcast from Salt Lake for all of Paraugay and Uruguay. I can`t tell you how powerful the spirit was. Elder Neil L. Anderson and Sister Linda Reeves (brand new to the general RS presidency) spoke in Spanish, without a translator, even though they don`t really speak spanish (I think you probably have a better accent than them, mom). It was so comforting to listen to Sister Reeves (she has 13 kids, did you know that?!) struggle with speaking in Spanish so much, and yet still feel her love so strongly, and feel the Spirit. I hope the people here can feel that as they listen to me, imperfect as I am.

Anyway, President Monson also spoke! I felt so included, that the leaders of our church were speaking straight to Paraguay! As we sang "Now Let us Rejoice" as the intermediate hymn, I had the impression come to me out of nowhere that God loves His children in Paraguay SO MUCH, and that God wants me to be here right now. It was a feeling I didn`t realize I needed so much. I know God wants me on a mission in Paraguay right now. Ah, it was such a great conference! After listening to the prophet speak right to us, I wanted to go out and tell everyone I saw that we have a prophet HOY EN DIA PARA GUIARNOS (in our day to guide us)! I know he is called of God. He is just like Moses or Abraham or Noah, but for us, today.
Mariam and Jorge are all on track to get married this Saturday! She just called me as I was typing this and it reminded me. We were visiting her the other night and then Jorge walked in and we talked about the wedding with him. He said he wants to but he has three bills to pay this month and doesn`t know if he can afford it. We promised him that if he paid for his wedding first, the Lord would provide. Then Jorge left and Mariam whispered to us, "He doesn`t know I`ve been saving and that I have the money. Don`t tell him."  She`s so great. She knows where there is a will there is a way. She even went to district conference yesterday with her four little boys, even though she had an awful cough and the average investigator would have used that as an excuse to stay home.
The picture is from this morning. We hiked a cerro (mountain, but really a hill) in Caacupe with our zone leaders and district. It was really fun and super great (sweaty) workout. The topìc came up that I was homeschooled, and whenever that comes up everyone is so impressed that I am so normal even though I was homeschooled, ha.
Also, one more question. Could someone try to find the Standard of Truth in Spanish and send it to me? First person to do it gets a letter from me. :) In English it says, "The standard of truth has been erected. The truth will go forth boldly, nobly and unhallowed hand can stop the work," etc.
I love you and miss you! I love my mission! I love my companion! I love speaking Spanish! I love my investigators! I love Heavenly Father! I love my whole life!
Your humble servant and never deviating friend,
Sister Faith Goimarac 

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